How To Breathe New Life Into Unpublished Content

1 month ago

Repurposing successful content is old news. You already know how to squeeze as much value out of it as you can.

But what about your content that never made the cut? These assets languish on your hard drive or in the cloud, never fulfilling their original purpose. They could be:

  • Blog articles made irrelevant by breaking news.
  • Press releases never picked up by the media.
  • Thought leadership articles created for trade magazines that ceased publishing before your content could be published.
  • Case studies tabled when your organization’s priorities changed.

All is not lost: Here’s how to breathe new life into that unpublished content.

Find the misfit content

You likely don’t remember every piece of content created that never saw the light of day. To rediscover these potential gems, search your brand’s server for content that never moved to the next folder in the publishing process. Look at your own hard drive (and ask team members to do the same) for completed drafts that were never finalized. Peruse your content management system (CMS) for unpublished content.

Once you find some of this misfit content, it’s time to unearth their hidden value.

Find some misfit unpublished #content and unearth its hidden value, says @Hey_Formichelli via @CMIContent @inmotionshosting. Click To Tweet

Revitalize rejected content

In my 25 years as a magazine writer, I racked up well over 500 rejections to my pitches. I saved each failed idea in a folder on my hard drive, and every so often, I would go through it to see if any of the ideas might be workable for a new publication.

In early 2020, an editor at a prominent women’s magazine asked me to pitch some ideas. I compiled a handful of rejected pitch ideas that I updated and revised. One of those ideas ended up in the December issue.

You can do something similar. Send the once rejected column written by your CEO to another publication. Take that exclusive release sent to a reporter who never used it and turn it into a release for bloggers in your industry.

Remember, just because a piece of content was wrong for one outlet doesn’t mean it’s wrong for all of them. Or sometimes, you just need to wait until the time is right. Look at your rejected work with a new eye, and ask: Is it this content’s time to shine?

Just because a piece of #content was wrong for one outlet doesn’t mean it’s wrong for all. Revitalize your rejected content, says @Hey_Formichelli via @CMIContent @inmotionhosting. Click To Tweet

If your revitalized content gets rejected again, publish it yourself on your blog, resource page, social media, etc.

Transform content dismissed because of unexpected events

When I ran a small content studio, we developed an incredible report about how to incorporate the principles of women’s magazine journalism into B2B content to “take it from ZZZ to OMG.”

Right after we released the report to the world, the pandemic struck. Suddenly, no one wanted to read about (or create) fun, entertaining content. Our new content needed to demonstrate we knew what was going on in the world – the gloomy “new normal.” It made sense. Brands that didn’t at least give a nod to the situation in their content looked out of touch and tactless.

But what about the amazing piece of content that seemed wrong to publish based on what was happening in the world?

Tweak the content asset: Sometimes, a simple tweak can turn your content from “They said WHAT now?” to “I need to read this now.”

A month or so after the pandemic lockdown, we could have made the report work with a new design and lead, such as: “We could all use a distraction these days. Here’s how to bump up the fun in your B2B content to give your readers a welcome break from the negative.”

Reframe the idea: Maybe the original content treatment still won’t work in the present, but it could be turned into on-trend content.

Say you’re a home furnishings brand. Just as the pandemic started, you were about to launch a content campaign on how to create a luxurious guest room for summer visitors. But now, that angle was irrelevant. Instead, you could have reframed the content into how to turn an unused guest room into a home office or classroom, and the campaign would be right on point.

Your original #content angle might not work in the present, but it could be turned into on-trend content, says @Hey_Formichelli via @CMIContent @inmotionhosting. Click To Tweet

Do something else: With my content studio’s women’s magazine lessons for B2B report shelved, we create new content in the form of an infographic – 30 Creative Alternatives to ‘Unprecedented.’ This amusing infographic showed an awareness of the situation. It also ended up getting even more attention than we expected from the original report.

Wait it out

If the content went unpublished because of current events, reassess it a few days, weeks, or months later to see if it’s now viable. We did that with our women’s magazine B2B content report. A few months after the pandemic began, people did get tired of gloomy marketing content, ads featuring somber piano music, and emails from brands about how we’re all in this together. We reposted and marketed the report in June, and it garnered a lot of engagement.


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Pick the good from the bad content

In some cases, the unpublished piece of content is simply unsalvageable:

  • The content is so out of date it’s not worth your time to update it.
  • The case study features a customer now out of business.
  • The video targets a persona your brand no longer serves.
  • The author is no longer in good standing in your industry.

However, even this content is not dead. You can mine it for bits and use them for another piece of content, social media, newsletter blurbs, testimonials, and so on. For example, grab out and reuse:

  • Quotes from subject matter experts
  • Helpful (and still valid) tips
  • Sidebars or short sections connected to unsalvageable long-form content, such as white papers, books, and guides
  • Resource lists

Pick over that content like a grandma using a roast chicken on day three. We’re in chicken salad territory here, folks. Don’t let any usable content go to waste.

Your unpublishable content is not so unpublishable

You’ve delved into your content and come up with some losers you could turn into winners. In many cases, you’ll find the content wasn’t really bad. It was just a case of the wrong place or wrong time.

Now that you have these strategies for reviving rejected, tabled, and otherwise unpublished content, add a quarterly reminder to your calendar to go digging for content gold. You’ll save time and money – and treat your audience to amazing content they otherwise would have missed.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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